Friday, December 4, 2020
Dec. 4, 2020

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Pope Francis calls corruption in Catholic Church a ‘deep-rooted problem’


ROME — The Catholic Church has had a problem with corruption for centuries, Pope Francis said in a Friday interview, adding that he faces obstacles and resistance as he tries to tackle this.

“The Church is and remains strong but the issue of corruption is a deep-rooted problem that dates back centuries,” the pontiff said in an interview with Italian news agency Adnkronos.

“I have found lots of people who are taking risks on my behalf, who are putting their lives on the line, who are fighting with conviction” for reform efforts, he added.

“They know that we are in the right and that the path we have taken, despite a thousand obstacles and natural resistances, is the right one,” Francis said.

The pope was elected in 2013 with a reform mandate, after the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI following a string of scandals concerning child sexual abuse, cronyism and corruption.

Scandals continued under Francis. Last month, for example, he fired a close aide, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, after accusing him of misusing Vatican charity funds to help members of his family.

Adnkronos said Francis described himself as “not very optimistic” about his battle to change the church, but said this with a smile, adding: “but I trust in God and in men who are loyal to God.”

In the interview, the pope apparently turned down an opportunity to clarify remarks recently attributed to him in which he endorsed the idea of same-sex civil partnerships.

His comments were featured in “Francesco,” a documentary about Francis by Oscar-nominated Russian filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky that caused a sensation when it premiered at the Rome Film Fest last week.

In the film, the pope says: “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

Conservative Catholics were outraged by the statements, which seemed to contradict the church’s long-held opposition to homosexual behavior and same-sex legal unions.

It later transpired that the pope’s remarks were made during an interview with Mexican television channel Televisa in 2019. The film featured several parts of the interview that were not originally broadcast.

Afineevsky edited the remarks together, partly removing some of the context, but the Vatican press office did not criticize his film or respond with any other comment.

The Adnkronos interviewer said he asked Francis about the criticism he had recently faced, including on the Vatican’s cooperation with China and the row over same-sex unions, but he responded more generally

“The pope listens to all the criticism and then exercises discernment, distinguishing what is well-meaning and what is not,” Francis was quoted as saying.

“While it is true that in criticism I should find inspiration to do better, I certainly cannot let myself be swayed by everything that is not very positive that is written about the pope,” he said.